Below Sea Level
Last year’s Top 20 Albums list played out over a mountainous event in my personal life – the uphill anticipation and aftermath serenity bookmarking my September wedding – and, as such, the event informed the criteria of several top listens. Although bringing far less intensity, 2012’s big event – my moving away from Ottawa – still left lingering traces over the year in music, classifying records in old or new geographies.
Since no record on SCQ’s year-end list approaches the investment Below Sea Level has in geography, it’s fitting that Simon Scott’s ode to The Fens in Eastern England so prominently scored my Ottawa farewell. Early spins of this record, occurring about a month from our packing-up and departure, encapsulated my last weeks of walking to work, taking in the sun-drenched parks and sidewalks of a town unknowingly on the cusp of a drought, while hearing the insects, birds and plant-life resident to an area thousands of kilometers away. Sometimes Scott manipulates the found-sounds into electronic rhythms that form the bedrock of his ambient movements, other times he lets the various organic sounds collaborate with his tones as they like, improvised. But when Scott fully confesses his love of the Fens through nostalgic guitar-work, it speaks to attachments we can hardly enunciate – the places we’ve left pieces of ourselves.